Youth With A Mission

Youth With A Mission

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Youth

With A Mission

Peter Hocken

pastor,

Loren

Cunningham,’

focuses on

renewal

aimed to be

interdenominational, certainly

Protestant

bodies,

265

is one of the

largest

Christian

in 1960

by

a Pentecostal

not

exclusively Pentecostal, Like other

Evangelical

Protestant

The

major catalyst Charismatic

from

Europe, especially staff member of YWAM-Austria,

Youth With a Mission

(YWAM)

missionary agencies

in the world. Founded

YWAM aims to train

young

Christians as effective

evangelists.

While not

insisting

on its staff

being baptized

in the

Holy Spirit,

YWAM has overall retained a Pentecostal/Charismatic character as it

spread

to all the continents of the

globe.

This

report

YWAM’s

developing response

to currents of

spiritual

in the Roman Catholic Church. From its

inception,

YWAM

but

and

Evangelical.2

missionary

YWAM workers took for

granted

that Roman Catholics were

simply

candidates for

evangelism who,

when

converted, would leave the Church of Rome and join an Evangelical church.

for

rethinking

this

policy

was the rise of the

Renewal in the Roman Catholic Church. The

impetus

came

from Austria and Poland.3 In

1975,

a

young

at

Seckau,

Bruce

Clewett,

was introduced

by

the

a Benedictine monk

Lutheran

Mary

Sisters of

Darmstadt, Germany,

to

near Graz in Austria. This association led to the first YWAM outreach to Catholics the

following year

at Seckau. Clewett

with Al

Akimoff,

director of YWAM’s

discussed this

development Slavic Missions.

Pentecostals, bodies in YWAM workers

all of them

very

small nation. Until

1976,

the

Up

to that

point,

YWAM’s work in Poland had been with

Baptists,

Brethren and

Lutherans,

an

overwhelmingly

Roman Catholic

in Poland had no contact with committed Roman Catholics, although they

knew that

Campus

Crusade were

collaborating with the Polish Catholic movement known as

Oasis,

renamed the .

Light-Life

movement in 1976.4

Following

his discussion with

Clewett,

a potential to work with converted Catholics. A young

Akimoff sensed

‘ At this time, Loren Cunningham was a minister of the Assemblies of God. 2 It was this wider vision that set Cunningham at odds with the Assemblies of God in YWAM’s

early years, and caused him to lose his ministerial accreditation with the

denomination for 15

There had

years.

already been more

limited collaboration in

Spain, Switzerland and

YWAM,

Germany. 4

On the Light-Life movement, see Grazyna Sikorska, Light and Life: Renewal in Poland

(London:

Collins Fount

Paperbacks,

and Grand

Rapids,

MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989). On their collaboration with Campus Crusade and

and subsequent accusations of Protestant “infiltration,” see

and

Sikorska, Light

Life,

70-72 and Dariusz

Cupial

“Renewal

Among

Catholics in Poland,” PNEUMA: The Journal the

227-231.

of Society for

Pentecostal Studies 16 (Fall 1994):

1

266

Dutchman,

Evert

Veldhuizen,s

was asked to

go

to Poland and make contact with renewed Catholics. After some

meetings

with Fr. Franciszek

Blachnicki,

the founder of

Light-Life,

some collaboration followed in

1977-79, though

much less than Veldhuizen had

hoped, due to other demands on YWAM.

This new door of

opportunity

confronted

Clewett, staunchly Evangelical

in his

theology,

with the

question:

“Is it

possible

to be a bom

again,

Bible

believing disciple

of Jesus

rejecting

all moral compromise

and still be a committed Roman Catholic?”

Only

if he could

say

“Yes” to this

question

would it be

possible

to collaborate with Roman Catholics and

help

the Catholics

they evangelized

to come to a vital faith in Jesus Christ within their own Catholic Church. Clewett wrestled before the Lord with this

question

for two

years,

and spent long

hours

studying

Catholic

documents, teaching

and

history.

As he became convinced that it was

possible

to sustain a vital Christian experience

within the Catholic

Church,

he knew he had a call to

help bring

this renewal in faith to Roman Catholics. As YWAM-Austria began

some small forms of collaboration with Catholic

Charismatics, Clewett shared his vision with fellow national leaders in

YWAM,

and was asked to

prepare

a

paper

on this

topic

for their international leadership.

Between 1982 and

1984,

different versions of the

paper

were discussed

by

several YWAM leaders. In

1984,

at Desert Hot

Springs, California,

the

paper

“Guidelines for Youth With A Mission’s Relationship

to the Traditional Churches” was

presented

to the international

leadership.

The

paper

is characteristic of YWAM, which is above all an

energetic

and zealous

body

of believers committed to the practical

tasks of

evangelism

and

discipleship training.6 6

The 1984

paper

does not

spend long

on

theological

issues. It acknowledges

that “God is at work in all Christian traditions-including

the so-called ‘traditional churches’

TCs,”

and quickly

addresses

practical

matters.

Thus,

the second

page

of the ten-page

document

already

addresses the

problem

of what to do with TC members who have made a

personal

commitment to the Lord but who do not

“belong

to a

spiritually strong parish”

which “is often the

Other

paragraphs

make

practical suggestions

and recommendations, including

the

following:

Evert Veldhuizen is currently pastor of the Baptist Church in Tours, France, and working

on a doctoral thesis on Charismatic Renewal

among Evangelicals

in France.

6 YWAM began with the goal of sending out young evangelists, but after a few years Cunningham

saw that the training of new disciples was fundamental, and in 1967 the first YWAM discipleship training school was formed.

7 “Guidelines for Youth With A Mission’s

Relationship

to the Traditional Churches,” (1984),

1-2.

2

267

should be Separate

DTSs,e seminars, domestic crusades and even information

[sic]

created, geared towards

members of certain

TCs, who would otherwise

not come to a more interdenominational program….’

We suggest finding TC groups which share our understanding of having a personal

commitment to the

Lordship of Jesus Christ, supporting these wherever

groups possible, and be open to sending them people who have recently

made this personal commitment.’°

We want to create an

atmosphere

of mutual acceptance on our bases in which no one feels pressured to leave their denomination.’ `

We should encourage staff to have church affiliations outside YWAM. ‘

The

paper

was

presented

and discussed. The International Council agreed

in principle to its contents. It was

felt, however,

that it would be unwise to make it the official

policy

of YWAM.

Rather,

the

paper could serve as

guidelines

for those who felt led to work

among Catholics. This

decision,

while somewhat

disappointing

to the

paper’s proponents,

no doubt reflected a wisdom in view of the

explosiveness of the

topic,

the

widely

varied situations

throughout

the world and the fact that consciences had to be

shaped by

the

Holy Spirit,

not compelled by

edict.”

YWAM-Austria was in many

ways

the

laboratory

for this

experiment as far as YWAM collaboration with Roman Catholics was concerned. Bruce Clewett

prayed

and

experimented

with different

patterns

and strategies

for

evangelism

and

discipleship training

in a Catholic milieu. In

addition,

he looked for structures

acceptable

within the Catholic Church,

within which Catholics

evangelized by

YWAM could receive follow-up

and active

pastoral

care. Out of this concerted but flexible effort

grew

a

program geared

to

planting

“Renewal communities” or “Renewal

fellowships”

in Austria.’4

In

1987,

Rob

Clarke,

a Catholic from New

Zealand,

who had been on the staff of

YWAM-Austria,

was

appointed

YWAM national director in

Ireland,

an

appointment

that was a fruit of the Desert Hot

8 Discipleship Training Schools.

9 “Guidelines,” 3.

‘° “Guidelines,”

4.

“Guidelines,” 6.

12 “Guidelines,”

9.

“The

permissive character of

this

policy does,

of

course, lead to contrasting approaches

within the same

country,

and can lead-I would think

unfairly-to accusations of

playing

a “double

game.” Thus,

Lawrence Jones’s

article,

“An American Pentecostal Mission to Poland in 1989,” in

Christianity and ed. J. P. Nederveen Pieterse

Hegemony,

(New York, NY/Oxford: Berg, 1992), 273-301 a

provides description of a short-term YWAM mission, but does not reflect any

of the evolution studied here.

“By 1994, Clewett’s team had helped to launch seven such communities and is currently working

on a handbook for others wishing to start one in their own area.

3

268

staff,

of whom

priorities, evangelism steadily

so Catholics.

Springs meeting.’S

When Clarke took over in Dublin, he had 8 full-time

4 were Roman Catholic. Clarke

sought

to

develop

an ethos in YWAM-Ireland that was faithful to YWAM convictions and

but in which Irish Catholics committed to

vigorous

would feel at home. The work has

expanded

that

by January 1994,

21 out of the 28 full-time staff are

to Christ

Church,

help they

were

seeking was

responding

to this young

Catholics Dublin. Thus YWAM

helped

Immanuel

Community Community,

Secondly,

at a to Catholic Charismatics

1985 from a Maltese YWAM School Catholic

with

Catholic

adaptation

Catholic,

reflecting

Renewal in the Roman Catholic

Catholics

looking

for basic

find the

practical

to

(ICPE)

was founded

a form of

strong

links with

YWAM,

has been

With the

spread

of Charismatic

there were

groups

of

young

training

in

discipleship

and

evangelism,

who did not

in their own Church.

By

the late 1980s YAM

need at two levels.

First, they

welcomed such

to their

discipleship training schools, particularly

in the

early stages

of

fledgling Charismatic communities

arising

in Catholic milieux:

examples

include

in

Ravensburg, Germany,

and the

Upper

Room

in St.

Albans, England.”

more

strategic long-term level,

YWAM offered

help

to start their own forms of

discipleship training.

The vision for a Catholic

training

school in evangelism came in

Mario

Cappello,

who had done a

of

Evangelism

in the late 1970s. The International

Program

for

Evangelization

in

Malta,

initial

help

from YWAM.

ICPE,

which

represents

of the YWAM

DTS,

now has a second center in Germany.

ICPE has not maintained

a Catholic Charismatic Renewal that is often nervous of Evangelical

and Pentecostal contacts. 17

In the United

States,

YWAM

cooperation

largely

restricted to the framework

organized by

the North American

1990

Indianapolis

World

Congress

on the

Holy Spirit and

Evangelization’8

and the

July

1995

Congress planned

for Orlando. The lack of wider YWAM service to Catholic Renewal is mainly due to lack of Catholic

interest, partly reflecting

a Catholic desire to have their

and

partly

a Catholic caution about

vigorous

Protestant

(NARSC):

the

own

agencies evangelistic

bodies.

with Catholic Charismatics

of the

congresses Renewal Service Committee

collaboration has

developed

A rather different and

ongoing pattern

of YWAM-Roman Catholic

in

Uganda, through

a German Catholic

Britain, 16 Upper

‘3 The initial selection for the Dublin appointment was by the leaders for Great

but it required subsequent ratification by the European leadership.

Room in St. Albans has more Protestant members than Immanuel in Ravensburg. “‘The 1986 ICPE took

place in Rome, with Cappello and Clarke as co-directors. ‘8 See news items in Charisma 15 (May 1990): 30 and 16 (October 1990): 24-25, 28.

4

courses African

country Catholic Church. Charismatic

Clarke from Dublin

diocese in Ghana sent

Mary

collaboration

despite

its controversial

Jacobs,2°

on

Catholic Charismatic

community outreach,

Christ’s Youth City,

where YWAM

269

By

1993 there were three DTS

developed

between

a Catholic

In the

Philippines,

came about

missionary,

Fr. Ernst

Sievers,

who had come to know YWAM earlier in Ghana. 19 Fr. Sievers had met Bruce Clewett in Europe, and

proposed

a YWAM

program

for Catholics in

Uganda.

Around

1990,

a YWAM team from Austria and

Ireland,

led a DTS under the mantle of Catholic Charismatic Renewal in

Uganda.

in

Uganda, mostly

run

by

African leaders. Ghana is another

in which YWAM has done some work with the

Friendly

relations

group

in Takoradi and

YWAM;

over 40 Catholics from Takoradi have been

through

the YWAM DTS. In

early 1992,

Rob

and a leader from a Catholic

community

in Austria ran a

ten-day leadership

course in

Sunyani,

to which each Catholic

8-10

people.

The YWAM

opening up

to

cooperation

with renewed Catholics inevitably

raises Protestant fears of

compromise

and

syncretism.

Such fears are

greater

in countries with a dominant Catholic Church and a popular piety extolling

and the saints.

with Catholics has

grown slowly

over the last seven

years

character. This

cooperation

through (1)

the arrival of a dedicated

young

American

Catholic,

Steve

the YWAM

staff; (2)

contact with

Joy

of the

Lord,

a

in Manila, and their

youth evangelistic

in Action;2′

and, (3)

a concentration on Davao

had no

existing activity. Following

a gradual start to this

experimental

outreach to

Filipino Catholics,

Jacobs was

officially

in

1988,

an

opening

that was later endorsed by the YWAM national council

in the

Philippines. 22

YWAM leaders involved in this

experimentation

that it raises, and that the wisdom of the

Holy Spirit

needed to

proceed

in faithfulness to their

Gospel

convictions and in openness

to the

leading

of the

Holy Spirit.

Since YWAM is not a denomination but an interdenominational

body,

it does not have a comprehensive

of

faith,

but is able to maintain its clear

to Jesus

Christ,

to salvation

to

evangelism

and

discipleship training

The YWAM

leadership

see themselves as

supporting

released into this

ministry

The

of the

major

issues is

statement commitment

resurrection,

the Word of God.

are well aware

through

his cross and

and to

fidelity

to

19 See Cephas Omenyo, “The Charismatic Renewal Movement in

Ghana,” PNEUMA: The Journal

of

the

Society for

Pentecostal Studies 16 (Fall 1994): 169-185.

21 Joy

“Now on the YWAM staff in Dublin, Ireland.

of the Lord is part of the Sword of the Spirit (International) Community with its center in Ann Arbor,

‘In

Michigan.

1990, a six month program like a DTS, with three months teaching and three months of praxis was organized by the Catholic organization, Evangelization 2000, with strong YWAM input. This course, which was not presented as a YWAM work, was promoted by the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines.

5

270

the

renewing

work of the

Holy Spirit

in the

TCs,

not as

endorsing patterns they

believe

require

reform or renewal.

To further reflection and

sharing

of

experience,

an international conference for YWAM

people

concerned with

cooperation

with Catholics was held in Dublin in June 1992 with 40

participants, including

several Africans. A second conference was held at St.

Albans, England

in June 1993 with 70

participants,

of whom the

majority

were working

in Europe, but with others from the

Philippines, Colombia,

the United States and New Zealand.23 In between these two conferences in February

of

1993, YWAM-Europe

held two leaders conferences in Holland,

at which

workshops

were

given by

the

present

author on the issues involved in

working

with the historic

Churches, especially

the Roman Catholic Church. A third and

larger

international conference is planned

for

Brussels, Belgium,

in early 1995.

“The

speakers included Charles Whitehead, a Catholic Charismatic leader from England

and chair of ICCRS in Rome, Fr. Ernst Sievers (Uganda), Bruce Clewett (YWAM-Austria),

and Jeff Fountain (European Director for YWAM).

6

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